2019 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

For many college football players, the goal is to have success at school to earn a spot in the NFL. Most players who turn pro after college enter the league via the NFL Draft.

Somehow, this is already the fourth year of these NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings. The player pool being considered still dates back five years, meaning the 2014 class is no longer relevant to these rankings. There was a ton of movement this season, including two new teams in the top five and three new teams to the rankings overall.

The goal of these rankings is to quantify the results of the past few NFL drafts and track which schools succeed year over year at sending players to the next level. This is not meant to determine how well those players perform at the next level, as it is much harder to quantify what constitutes being a successful NFL player. This is still one of the most fun projects I have taken on since starting this site.

Previous rankings: 2018, 2017, 2016

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points

Alabama Logo1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 281 points
Previous: 1 (263 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Amari Cooper, 4th Overall, 2015
Somehow, Alabama is actually stretching its lead at the top of these rankings. After sending another 11 prospects to the league, the most of any school, the Crimson Tide comfortable sits at the top of these rankings. It is ridiculous how far ahead of the pack Nick Saban is every year.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 229 points
Previous: 2 (232 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Nick Bosa, 2nd Overall, 2019
It was another solid draft class for Ohio State with Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins both going in the first round. The Buckeyes continued its trend of sending massive draft classes with 10 total prospects selected in 2019. Even with Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer, there is no chance Ohio State leaves the top two any time soon.

Florida logo.jpg3. Florida Gators- 166 points
Previous: 3 (163 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Dante Fowler Jr., 3rd Overall, 2015
Florida bounced back after an off year in 2018. The Gators 2019 class did not feature any first round picks, but saw a player selected in rounds two through five. Florida is going to need to land some first rounders in the future though if it wants to stay in the top 5.

Clemson Logo4. Clemson Tigers- 158 points
Previous: 6 (139 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Clelin Ferrell, 4th Overall, 2019
This is the type of draft we all knew Clemson was capable of having. With three first round draft picks, the Tigers roared into the top 5 and gave themselves a very good base to build on. Expect Dabo Swinney to continue sending top tier talent to the next level.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg5. Washington Huskies- 140 points
Previous: 11 (112 points)
Highest Drafted Player- John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
It is time to start recognizing Washington as a top-tier producer of NFL draft picks. The Huskies have had at least one player drafted in the first round in four of the last five drafts. Kaleb McGary becomes the latest to join the group. What pushes Washington into this spot is its success in the second round, with three more second rounders coming in 2019.

Florida State Logo6. Florida State Seminoles- 132 points
Previous: 4 (160 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jameis Winston, 1st Overall, 2015
It should come as no surprise that Florida State is slipping in these rankings after another tough season in the ACC. The departure of Jimbo Fisher is not going to help matters at all. The Seminoles ranking is heavily tied to its 2015 draft class, which will drop out of consideration in next year’s rankings.

Louisiana State University logo6. LSU Tigers- 132 points
Previous: 5 (155 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Leonard Fournette, 4th Overall, 2017
LSU did produce a top-five pick in Devin White this season. However, White was one of just three Tigers drafted in 2019. While LSU will certainly stay in the rankings producing first round picks, it needs to fill in the gaps in later rounds.

MichiganWolverines8. Michigan Wolverines- 127 points
Previous: 14 (110 points)
Highest Drafted Player-
Michigan put together a solid class to build on the ridiculous class it produced in 2017. Devin Bush and Rashan Gary going in the first round headlined a five-man class. Considering the rate Jim Harbaugh attracts talent to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines should stay in the top 10.

Oklahoma Logo9. Oklahoma Sooners- 125 points
Previous: 18 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Baker Mayfield / Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018 / 2019
Meet the new college football powerhouse in these rankings. Oklahoma became the first school to ever produce two first overall picks at the same position in back-to-back years. Kyler Murray and Marquis “Hollywood” Brown lead a stacked class. The Sooners will continue to rise in the rankings with most of their points being tied to it’s two most recent draft classes.

Georgia Logo10. Georgia Bulldogs- 122 points
Previous: 16 (99 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Considering Georgia’s success in recent college football seasons, it should come as no surprise Kirby Smart and company crack the top 10. Outside of a very quiet 2017 draft, the Bulldogs regularly send a half dozen players or more to the next level. This season was no exception.

Miami logo11. Miami Hurricanes- 117 points
Previous: 13 (111 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ereck Flowers, 9th Overall, 2015
This was a quietly solid draft class for Miami. While the Canes did not produce any draft picks before Day 3 of the draft, five players were drafted on Saturday. Miami will certainly hope to land a couple players higher in the draft going forward, but these types of drafts will keep the Hurricanes from dropping out of the top 20.

Stanford Cardinal12. Stanford Cardinal- 116 points
Previous: 9 (115 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
Another solid if unspectacular draft class from Palo Alto sees the Cardinal drop from the top 10. Stanford is still very much in the mix, having a player drafted rounds two through six. As long as David Shaw sticks around, so, too, will Stanford in these rankings.

USC logo13. USC Trojans- 114 points
Previous: 10 (114 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
USC definitely put up a much flashier draft class in 2018, featuring a top-five pick. With a pair of third rounders and a pair of fifth rounders, the Trojans might continue to find themselves outside the top 10. The struggles USC has had on the field reflect the lack of NFL ready talent coming out of Southern California right now.

Notre Dame Logo14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 110 points
Previous: 8 (116 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
In the past, the this part of the rankings has had very small margins. This year is no different. While this looks like a massive drop for Notre Dame, producing an additional second round pick would have held the Irish at 11th instead of 14th. This class has good depth, with six players drafted overall. Considering the Irish regularly feature in the College Football Playoff, they should bounce back.

UCLA logo.jpg15. UCLA Bruins- 100 points
Previous: 7 (126 points)
Highest Drafted Player-
This was a really rough draft class for UCLA, who produced just one player. It was Mr. Irrelevant Caleb Wilson. One seventh round pick does not inspire confidence. A small 2015 draft class might prevent the Bruins from dropping too much next year, but their spot in these rankings will definitely be in question going forward.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo15. Ole Miss Rebels- 100 points
Previous: 21 (77 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Laremy Tunsil, 13th Overall, 2016
Ole Miss had a very underrated 2019 draft class. Three second round picks propel the Rebels to the top 15. Even with program turnover, being an SEC team in a good state to recruit should keep the NFL-level talent flowing.

Texas A&M logo16. Texas A&M Aggies- 95 points
Previous: 15 (102 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
The arrival of Jimbo Fisher should stabilize Texas A&M over the next few seasons. He built a juggernaut at Florida State and can likely take credit for a lot of their ensuing draft success. My assumption here is the Aggies will climb in the rankings while the Seminoles slowly slip.

Penn_State_text_logo17. Penn State Nittany Lions- 93 points
Previous: 19 (85 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
Another year, another season without a first round pick for Penn State. Saquon Barkley is the Nittany Lions’ only first round selection since 2010. This year, the impact was minimized as Penn State still had six players drafted, one in each round following the first.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_18. Mississippi State Bulldogs- 86 points
Previous: Unranked (52 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jeffery Simmons, 19th Overall, 2019
Welcome to the rankings Mississippi State. A massive draft class featuring three first round selections vaults the Bulldogs into the top 20. It was only a matter of time considering the level of success players have had at the NFL level in recent years (Chris Jones, Dak Prescott, Preston Smith). Now teams are heading back to the well earlier and more often. Mississippi State is here to stay.

Auburn_Tigers_logo19. Auburn Tigers- 82 points
Previous: 17 (92 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Braden Smith, 37th Overall, 2018
Without a player drafted in the first two rounds, Auburn filled up the later rounds. Six total Tiger players heard there name called during draft weekend. Auburn remains one of the only teams in the rankings to not produce a first round pick in the past five years. The uncertainty surrounding Gus Malzahn’s future doesn’t help.

iowa_wordmark20. Iowa Hawkeyes – 81 points
Previous: 23 (67 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Branden Scherff, 5th Overall, 2015
Iowa became the first school to have two tight ends drafted in the first round ever. The Hawkeyes quietly produce a lot of NFL talent without usually being in the regular top-25 conversation. Outside of 2016, Iowa has produced multiple NFL draft picks every season.

Utah_Utes_logo20. Utah Utes- 81 points
Previous: 25 (66 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Garrett Bolles, 20th Overall, 2017
Once again, the Utes produced five mid and late round draft picks. Utah is becoming a traditional NFL factory after appearing in these rankings for three straight years. It is unlikely they climb much higher without starting to produce more top-end picks, but the Utes do more than enough to hang onto their spot.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_22. North Carolina State Wolfpack- 79 points
Previous: Others Receiving Votes (62 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018
Name the school with the most quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters. If you guessed NC State, well done. Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson (transferred to Wisconsin), Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett and now Ryan Finley all have NFL homes. If you are a young quarterback prospect, this might be a good school for you to consider. Let’s not steal the thunder though of Garrett Bradberry, who became the Wolfpack’s second straight first round pick.

Louisville logo23. Louisville Cardinals- 77 points
Previous: 11 (112 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sheldon Rankins, 12th Overall, 2016
So it turns out Louisville meteoric rise might have been a fluke. The Cardinals dip back down 12 spots, dropping 45 points, after not having a single player drafted this year. The bottom clearly fell out and Bobby Petrino’s firing does not help matters. Louisville could very well be on their way out of the rankings.

West Virginia logo24. West Virginia Mountaineers- 75 points
Previous: Others receiving votes (65 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Kevin White, 7th Overall, 2015
West Virginia continues to live on the fringes of the top 25. A strong regular season led to a reasonable draft class with two third and two fourth round picks. The Mountaineers had a much better draft class than a year ago, but will they be able to build on it with Dana Holgorsen bolting for Houston?

Wisconsin logo25. Wisconsin Badgers- 74 points
Previous: 20 (78 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Melvin Gordon, 15th Overall, 2015
Wisconsin continues to produce a smattering of NFL-caliber players every year. There is no doubt the Badgers have developed a few very successful players in recent years (Melvin Gordon, T.J. Watt, Ryan Ramczyk). However, even with this top tier of talent, Wisconsin continues to lag behind the elite powers in college football. Deeper draft classes in recent years have certainly helped and it is pretty safe to bet on the Badgers staying in the top 25.

Others Receiving Votes: Missouri (66 points), Michigan State (66 points), Oregon (61 points)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

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2019 NFL Coaching Carousel

Black Monday came and went in the NFL, leaving eight head coaching vacancies throughout the league. Each team has a bit of a different approach to filling the opening and unique factors to consider, making this a fun exercise. This is who I think each team should hire as their head coach, not necessarily who they will hire. Let’s take a look at the best fits for each opening across the league.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)
Previous coach: Marvin Lewis
New hire: Vic Fangio

After 16 years, Marvin Lewis is finally out in Cincinnati. Lewis turned around the Bengals, but never managed to secure a playoff win. It is a result-driven business and the results have not been Lewis’ friend in recent years. This is a team that might be about to undergo a complete overhaul on offense. Rumors persist about the futures of both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. There are plenty of holes on that side of the ball for the new head coach to fill. Let’s make something clear, Hue Jackson is not the answer to the offensive problems. It sounds like Cincy might go this route, which would be a massive mistake.

However, the defense has been even worse. Cincinnati allowed the most yards per game and the third most points per game. That’s where Vic Fangio comes in. Fangio has overseen the incredible transformation of the Chicago Bears defense. His defense allowed the third fewest yards per game and fewest points per game. At age 60, Fangio is far from a young option, but has 32 years of NFL coaching experience at different levels. Fangio deserves a shot to lead a team. For a team searching for an identity, the Bengals could find one with this defensive guru.

Denver Broncos (6-10)
Previous coach: Vance Joseph
New Hire: Kris Richard

John Elway made it very clear he wants a coach that is an expert on his side of the ball. The Denver Broncos should be very familiar with Kris Richard’s expertise when it comes to coaching defense. He coached the Legion of Boom in Seattle en route to a Super Bowl victory at Peyton Manning’s expense. That was the best statistical offense in NFL history and Richard stymied it.

Over the course of this season as the defensive backs coach in Dallas, he has helped develop Byron Jones into a true lockdown corner. He dealt with all kinds of personalities in that Seattle locker room and learned under Pete Carroll. Richard has a good resume for a first-time coach. The damage he could do with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Chris Harris Jr. would be fun to watch. The team needs to figure out a long-term solution at quarterback, but finding a way to get this defense back on track is a huge step to pushing this team in the right direction.

Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)
Previous coach: Hue Jackson
New hire: Gregg Williams

It has been 15 years since Gregg Williams was a head coach in the NFL, leading the Bills during the early 2000s with no avail. His successes as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans, winning a Super Bowl in 2009, are a bit fresher in our minds. He was excellent in that role, save Bounty Gate. Now, he took over as the Browns coach midseason and led the team to a 5-3 record and much-improved overall play. There is no question Williams and offensive coordinator Perry Kitchens have been essential in that. Cleveland won more games under the duo in the second half of the season than it had in the previous three years combined.

For the sake of the development of Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett Nick Chubb and some of the other young prospects, it makes sense to keep some stability. No one is going to be better-suited to continue Mayfield’s development than Kitchens other than maybe Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who signed a contract extension with the Sooners on Tuesday. Plus the level of turnaround this team saw was incredible. The three losses under Williams came against the Texans, Chiefs and Ravens, all playoff teams. Belief is this club could be a playoff team next year. Keeping this coaching staff in place would be a wise move.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Previous coach: Dirk Koetter
New hire: Eric Beinemy

The biggest task for whoever takes over for the Buccaneers is figuring out what to do at quarterback. Jameis Winston does not seem like a guaranteed long-term solution. The former first overall pick in the 2015 draft will be under contract for 2019, but is not guaranteed anything past that. That leaves the franchise in a very tough position with no other even potential long-term solution at quarterback on the roster.

There is no question that finding an offensive-minded coach to mentor Winston will be crucial. Enter Eric Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator. Every team will be looking for the next Sean McVay with their newest hire. Bieniemy might not be McVay, but he is a former NFL running back, so there is that understanding of what it is like to be a player in the league.

Concerns with Bieniemy start and end with his experience. This is his first season as offensive coordinator and he is not the one calling the plays. However, the league places a high value on Andy Reid assistants and Bieniemy was Kansas City’s running backs coach from 2013 to 2017. In that span, the Chiefs produced two different 1st-team All-Pro backs and several good role players, including Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Damien Williams. Tampa needs a coach to revitalize the franchise and maximize the talent already existing on the roster. I trust Bieniemy to do just that after helping Patrick Mahomes become the 3rd quarterback in NFL history to toss 50 touchdowns in a season. It is time to give him a chance.

Arizona Cardinals (3-13)
Previous coach: Steve Wilks
New hire: Jim Caldwell

Arizona made the perplexing decision to fire Steve Wilks after one season, meaning it is time for a second straight offseason coaching search. This time, the Cardinals would do well to bring in a veteran coach with plenty of experience developing and fostering quarterbacks. Jim Caldwell fits the bill. Caldwell led the Colts to a Super Bowl berth in 2009, and took the Lions to the playoffs twice in four seasons. If you scrub the year where he coached the Colts without Peyton Manning, Caldwell’s record is 60-36. Needless to say, he deserves another chance in the NFL.

With Josh Rosen in need of some real guidance, Caldwell worked with one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Manning. He also helped Matt Stafford become a much more efficient passer in Detroit. Former Colts center Jeff Saturday described Caldwell as being more laid back as well, an approach that could work well for a team that has Larry Fitzgerald on the roster. Caldwell is good at fostering the culture the players create. Fitz does it better than anyone else. Don’t overthink this and bring in a coach with real experience to oversee this rebuild.

Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Previous coach: Adam Gase
New hire: Dave Toub

There are a number of reasons why Dave Toub may be the best option for Miami. For one, he comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has produced Matt Nagy, Sean McDermott and Doug Pederson most recently. The last Reid special teams coordinator who landed a head coaching job was John Harbaugh, who through 11 seasons is 114-77 including a 10-5 playoff record and a Super Bowl ring. I’m not saying Toub is guaranteed to be Harbaugh, but don’t sneer at the idea of a special team’s coordinator taking the top job. He did a stellar job in 2018, as the Chiefs ranked 2nd in special teams DVOA.

The other reason Toub makes sense is because this roster needs a complete overhaul. He is not a specialist, but a good teacher. That is something the Dolphins desperately need. Outside of a handful of defensive pieces, Miami lacks talent. I actually think Adam Gase deserves a ton of credit for the success the offense did have this season. He had to get creative with a middling offensive line, no true No. 1 receiver, 36-year old Frank Gore as his top running back and the combination of Brock Osweiler and a banged up Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. The bigger decision here will be building the roster. Toub will be good at teaching everyone when they get some better young talent in the locker room. He has the experience teams want in a head coaching candidate.

New York Jets (4-12)
Previous coach: Todd Bowles
New hire: Jim Harbaugh

It’s time to bring some bravado back to Broadway. This is a really young team in New York in desperate need of discipline and leadership. Todd Bowles was a players coach through and through, but the Jets were one of the most penalized teams in the league during Bowles’ final two seasons. Harbaugh also has a pretty good track record at developing quarterbacks. He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Under Harbaugh, Kaepernick threw 50 touchdowns to just 21 interceptions and completed 60 percent of his passes. In college, he helped develop Andrew Luck.

Harbaugh would probably be interested in working with Sam Darnold. He is a former NFL quarterback with a great coaching record at 44-19-1 during four seasons with the 49ers. It will take a decent amount of effort to pull him away from Michigan, but the critics have been out in full force after Jim failed to beat Ohio State for the fifth straight year. (Fun fact: Michigan has beaten Ohio State just twice since 2000.) Harbaugh represents a good teacher, with previous NFL head coaching experience and the personality to thrive in the New York market. This is the closest thing the Jets are going to find to the offensive-minded version of Bill Parcells, the last time they had a great head coach. If Mike Macagnan is serious about doing things differently, this is the route to go.

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)
Former coach: Mike McCarthy
New hire: Josh McDaniels

After what he did to the Colts last season, teams are likely wary of the Patriots offensive coordinator, but he fits well with this Packers team. He is bit more fiery than Mike McCarthy, which is something I think fans will relish. He does have some head coaching experience in Denver, which didn’t go too well, but you would have to think he learned from his mistakes. The Packers also have some good offensive weapons for McDaniels to work with in Aaron Jones, Davante Adams and a solid offensive line.

There is a bigger reason why McDaniels to the Packers rumors will persist. He would have the opportunity to work with possibly the only quarterback in the league comparable to the one he worked with in New England. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are in a league of their own in terms of talent and personality. It is no secret they both possess egos that sometimes makes headlines. McDaniels’ experience working with Brady makes him one of the best candidates to work with Rodgers. He might even be able to bring some Patriots assistants with him to help turnover the defense with some good young pieces, but in need of a better system. Overall, it is time for McDaniels to get another chance, and for him to actually take it this time.

NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 9

Patriots Logo

1. New England Patriots: 7-2 (Last Week: 2)
Welcome back to the top of the power rankings New England. For the first time since week 1, there is a team other the Rams on top. After the convincing win over the Packers, it is well deserved. Holding an Aaron Rodgers-led offense to just 17 points is a big deal. Without Gronk, without Sony Michel, the Patriots continue to find more offensive playmakers, as they always do.

Saints logo

2. New Orleans Saints: 7-1 (Last Week: 4)
Down go the Rams! Sean Payton and Drew Brees shredded the Los Angeles defense to the tune of 45 points. The Saints offense looked nothing short of unstoppable in the first half of this game. Giving up 35 points wasn’t great, but New Orleans did a good job containing Todd Gurley. The Saints head to Cincinnati looking to continue its run as the hottest team in the league.

Chiefs Logo

3. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-1 (Last Week: 3)
Maybe this win was not as convincing as many expected. After all, the Browns were down by just six in the third quarter. The Chiefs still look explosive on offense and the defense is looking marginally better than it did when it opened the season. Patrick Mahomes is a beast. This team has more elite weapons than any other offense in the NFL between Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Throw in Sammy Watkins and this offense is truly scary.

Rams logo

4. Los Angeles Rams: 8-1 (Last Week: 1)
The Rams spent the offseason loading up on defensive weapons. It fell apart in New Orleans. Marcus Peters looked terrible trying to contain Michael Thomas. No sacks recorded and a whopping 45 points allowed is a tough thing to justify for a team with so much talent on the defensive side of the ball. Even with a prolific offense, Los Angeles will need to improve its play on the back end to win a Super Bowl.

Panthers logo

5. Carolina Panthers: 6-2 (Last Week: 5)
The Panthers are coming to primetime! Following a shootout win over the Buccaneers, courtesy of a 35-point first half, Carolina now hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday night in a cross-conference showdown. Norv Turner continues to find new ways to utilize this unconventional group of playmakers. If the defense can find a way to slow down James Conner, Carolina will emerge with another important victory as it tries to keep pace with New Orleans.

Chargers logo

6. Los Angeles Chargers: 6-2 (Last Week: 6)
Can someone find the Chargers a quality kicker? Caleb Sturgis struggled again, missing an extra point and a field goal, but Los Angeles held on for a tight win in Seattle. But I’ve buried the lede here, the Chargers join a pretty exclusive list of teams to go to CenturyLink and emerge with a victory. Los Angeles faces two struggling divisional opponents next in Oakland and Denver with an eye on the division crown.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo

7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-2-1 (Last Week: 7)
This team is starting to resemble the 2006 Steelers, on offense at least. They have a pair of dynamic receivers and an explosive running game to lean on. Ben Roethlisberger was on that team too. Pittsburgh is hitting on all cylinders now and earned another hard-fought win over the Ravens. A short week looms though with Big Ben nursing some injuries. It will be a tough test in Charlotte for Mike Tomlin and company.

Vikings logo

8. Minnesota Vikings: 5-3-1 (Last Week 8)
As you are reading this, Matt Stafford was just sacked again by the Vikings defense. Minnesota racked up a franchise record 10 sacks against Detroit on Sunday. Danielle Hunter returned a fumble for a touchdown as well. For the first time all season, Adam Thielen failed to pick up 100 yards receiving, which isn’t really a big deal when your team wins 24-9. He still scored a touchdown.

Eagles Logo

9. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 9)
The Eagles have to be feeling pretty good about themselves right about now. Washington is dealing with a ton of injuries and coming off a loss. The Cowboys dropped a key game at home after picking up Amari Cooper. Philly also added Golden Tate at the deadline to make this offense even more lethal. The Eagles are going to be a team no one wants to face in the postseason.

Bears logo

10. Chicago Bears: 5-3 (Last Week: 11)
Chicago battered possibly the worst quarterback in NFL history once again. Nathan Peterman now has more touchdown passes to opposing teams than to his own. Looking at this game from a statistical standpoint, it seems impossible the Bears put up 41 points.  The offense produced just 190 yards of total offense. Goes to show how bad the Bills offense was and how good the Bears defense can be. Chicago will get a tougher test as the Lions come to town.

Texans logo

11. Houston Texans: 6-3 (Last Week: 12)
Ugly as it might have been, the Texans emerged from Denver with another win. Houston is riding a six-game winning streak and it is games like this that set apart contenders from pretenders. Beating the 3-6 Broncos is not particularly impressive, but gutting out a tough game when you aren’t playing your best is important. Houston has a week off now to further integrate Demaryius Thomas into the passing game.

Bengals Logo

12. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-3 (Last Week: 14)
The news regarding A.J. Green is not sounding too good as he is headed for a specialist this week to examine his foot. With their top playmaker on the shelf, Andy Dalton is going to need to rely on his ground game. The Bengals are still right in the mix for a playoff spot, but the work becomes harder with all the injuries that are piling up. Good luck keeping up with the Saints offense.

Falcons logo

13. Atlanta Falcons: 4-4 (Last Week: 16)
Matt Ryan is putting up MVP-caliber numbers and the Falcons are benefiting from it. Atlanta blew out Washington on the road. Perhaps the most impressive thing was holding Adrian Peterson, fresh off his best game of the season, to just 1.9 yard per carry. If the defense can play at this level on a consistent basis, expect the Falcons to be legitimate contenders for a wildcard spot.

Washington made up logo

14. Washington: 5-3 (Last Week: 10)
It was an ugly loss at home to the Falcons. Washington is extremely banged up along the offensive line and at receiver. When the ground game completely disappears on top of that, it is a recipe for disaster. Adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at the deadline was supposed to sure up the defense as well. Initial returns don’t look great as Matt Ryan torched the secondary for 350 yards and four touchdowns. Washington still leads the NFC East, but this does not feel like a playoff team.

Ravens logo

15. Baltimore Ravens: 4-5 (Last Week: 13)
Baltimore’s schedule has been brutal the last few weeks, facing the Saints, Panthers and Steelers. While that may be true, that stretch also taught us a lot about this team. The Ravens clearly are not on the same level as those top teams. The offense does not have enough firepower to compete with the top clubs in the league. Joe Flacco is not getting it done and Alex Collins is not good enough to compensate for it. The middling group of receivers does not help either. A much-needed bye week should give Baltimore time to regroup and reformulate the offense.

Seahawks logo

16. Seattle Seahawks: 4-4 (Last Week: 15)
That was a disappointing showing from the Seahawks. If not for a couple of missed kicks by Caleb Sturgis, Seattle would never have been in a position to win at the end against Los Angeles. On top of that, David Moore dropped the ball on the final play of the game. It would have been a huge week to win in order to close the gap on the Rams following LA’s first loss of the year. Instead, Seattle will continue to hunt a wildcard spot.

Titans logo

17. Tennessee Titans: 4-4 (Last Week: 23)
The Titans pulled off a solid win over the Cowboys in a tough environment on Monday night. It keeps Tennessee in the thick of the playoff chase. The Titans are second in the division trailing only the Texans. While it is easy to doubt Tennessee’s credentials as a playoff threat, this team won a game in the postseason last year and has some young pieces that are clearly improving. If the offense can play turnover free, we’ve seen the defense win games for them already this season.

Packers logo

18. Green Bay Packers: 3-4-1 (Last Week: 17)
Another tough loss for the Packers raises questions over how good this team really is in 2018. The defense was gashed early and often by the combination of James White and Cordarrelle Patterson. Josh Gordon took the top off the defense after that. It is clear that while this defense has made strides, it still has a long way to go before Green Bay is back to contender level. If the Packers lose to Miami, put this team in full on panic mode.

Dolphins logo

19. Miami Dolphins: 5-4 (Last Week: 21)
In the midst of some exciting result across the league, I feel bad for anyone else who had the misfortune of watching the Dolphins and Jets. Miami managed to outlast New York on a rain-soaked field in a game where no offensive touchdowns were scored. The defense picked off Sam Darnold four times, but the Dolphins offense was terrible. Brock Osweiler threw for 139 yards and the ground game averaged 2.4 yards per attempt. Ryan Tannehill could be back this week, but that is far from a guarantee things will improve.

Denver_Broncos

20. Denver Broncos: 3-6 (Last Week: 19)
Denver had a chance to pull off a meaningful win and draw closer to .500. Brandon McManus missed the game-winning field goal and the Broncos fall deeper into the hole it dug themselves. Denver has lost six of seven, with the lone win coming against the hapless Cardinals. The pressure has to be on inside that locker room to show signs of improvement. However, considering Demaryius Thomas was just shipped out, it is not surprising to see this team struggle to score points.

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21. Detroit Lions: 3-5 (Last Week: 18)
Despite the ridiculous amount of money Matthew Stafford makes, Monday morning was a good day to not be him. He was hit 17 times in Minnesota. Detroit is looking less like a wildcard team and more like a team destined to draft in the top 10. If the offense cannot find a way to get into the end zone, it is going to be hard to win games down the stretch.

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22. Dallas Cowboys: 3-5 (Last Week: 20)
No one is going to admit to it yet, but this week might just be the beginning of the end for Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott in Dallas. The Cowboys failed to show up coming off a bye for a major home game against a beatable Titans team. Amari Cooper seems like a worthwhile addition, but given that Dallas will be picking in the top 12 most likely, it seems like a high price to pay for a team still desperately needing to fill holes across the roster. Dallas is 0-4 on the road so far, which doesn’t bode well for a playoff push.

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23. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-5 (Last Week: 22)
What if I told you that through nine weeks of the NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars would be in last place in the AFC South? Hard to believe, but based on division record, the Colts own the tiebreaker over the Jags. That could all change this week when Jacksonville takes on Indy, especially with the rumors Leonard Fournette could be back on the field.

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24. Indianapolis Colts: 3-5 (Last Week: 24)
Indianapolis is entering a vital stretch where it will face either divisional foes or fellow wildcard bubble teams in the AFC over the next six weeks. In a lot of ways, the Colts control their destiny more than several other playoff hopefuls. It starts with a crucial matchup against Jacksonville. A win there and the Colts are in business. A loss would make hopes of a playoff berth fairly bleak.

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25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-5 (Last Week: 25)
The problem with the Buccaneers is not the offense. Tampa put up 28 points against a good Panthers defense. It also allowed 42 though, including 35 in the first half. No matter how much of a gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick may be, it is hard to overcome a 35-14 halftime deficit. There is no question that Tampa is in preparation mode for next season and based on how many key positions it needs to figure out, it might be a while before the Bucs turn it around.

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26. Cleveland Browns: 2-6-1 (Last Week: 26)
Considering how poorly the Bengals fared against the Chiefs just a few short weeks ago, this could’ve been much worse. A 16-point loss is nothing to be proud of if you are Cleveland, but there were signs of potential on offense with Duke Johnson finally showing up. The defense was pretty poor and the offensive line made some notable mistakes. Let’s keep in mind this team won one game over the previous two years. It is going to take a bit of time to get back on track.

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27. New York Jets: 3-6 (Last Week: 27)
It is just his rookie season, but there have to be some red flags rising in regard to Sam Darnold. He leads the NFL in interceptions with 14. That is four more than both Case Keenum and Jameis Winston, who are the next highest on the list. His completion percentage of 55 is also troubling. While all the rookies have struggled to complete passes, Darnold seemed to stare down coverages in Miami and launch passes into windows that did not exist. It was a week to forget, but if the Jets lose to the Bills at home this week, it could spell some major changes for this franchise.

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28. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 28)
For just the second time this season, the Giants did not lose. New York also didn’t play, but let’s not get too technical here. This front office is in the process of cleaning house. It seems like Eli Manning will be gone at the end of the season. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t appear to have too many building blocks currently in house.

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29. Arizona Cardinals: 2-6 (Last Week: 30)
A week off for the Cardinals gives a nice breather to their rookie quarterback. Josh Rosen has been a lot of what was advertised so far. Clearly this team is a few years away from competing for anything, especially with Seattle and Los Angeles in their division. This week isn’t going to be too pretty though with a trip to Arrowhead on the docket to face the Chiefs. Maybe Rosen can learn something from watching Patrick Mahomes and the blistering Kansas City offense.

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30. San Francisco 49ers: 2-7 (Last Week: 32)
It was a lot of fun to watch Nick Mullins tear apart Oakland on Thursday night, but the 49ers won a game against another basement dweller and potentially cost themselves an opportunity to draft Nick Bosa. This team has some talented pieces, most of which are hurt. A chance to add a talent like Bosa along the defensive line is rare, especially for a team that seems set at quarterback. There is always a chance Bosa could slide after not playing for most of the college season, but he seems to be a lock as a top three pick.

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31. Buffalo Bills: 2-7 (Last Week: 29)
Nathan Peterman is pretty much solidified himself as the worst quarterback I have ever seen play a game of football in my life. He has 12 interceptions to just three touchdowns in his career and a completion percentage south of 50. Sure, he has a rough supporting cast, but this is just awful quarterback play. The Bills really can’t wait for Josh Allen to get back under center.

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32. Oakland Raiders: 1-7 (Last Week: 31)
This week on “Are the Raiders Trying to Lose?” the answer seemed to be pretty clearly yes. A quarterback most of the country had never heard of torched the Oakland defense and the offense failed to generate much of a spark against a pedestrian 49ers defense. Jon Gruden is doing a great job of tearing the team down. Time to see if he can rebuild it.

NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 8

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1. Los Angeles Rams: 8-0 (Last Week: 1)
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Rams earned another win. Still the league’s only undefeated team, Los Angeles faced some adversity early on in its contest with Green Bay. Jared Goff looked a bit off in the first half and the ground game was bottled up. The second half fared a lot better for the offense. If not for an untimely fumble by Ty Montgomery, this could be a very different story. LA will need to play better against the Saints.

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2. New England Patriots: 6-2 (Last Week: 2)
The Patriots offense managed just one touchdown up in Buffalo. New England still managed an impressive victory with a bunch of field goals and a pick-six. The Bills have done this a few times this season, so credit to the Pats for escaping with a comfortable win. This team will likely look better once it gets Sony Michel back from injury.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 7-1 (Last Week: 3)
The Chiefs were tested again against the Broncos, but the final score is all that matters. Kansas City failed to score in the fourth quarter, which allowed Denver to close the gap slightly. Overall, it was a solid win. The defense came up with five sacks. Biggest issue has to be the lack of a running game, accounting for just 49 yards in the contest. No one has come close to stopping the aerial attack in KC, but the lack of a running game is a rising concern.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 6-1 (Last Week: 4)
Revenge achieved in Minneapolis. That loss to the Buccaneers feels like a decade ago as the Saints cruised to its sixth straight win. It was not the typical game from New Orleans. Drew Brees only threw for 120 yards. In fact, the offense only picked up 260 yards of offense. The defense stepped up with two crucial turnovers, one interception for a touchdown and one fumble recovery to set up a short-field score. This sets up a showdown with the Rams next week in which defense might be at a premium.

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5. Carolina Panthers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
In a lot of ways, the Panthers have flown under the radar. None of their games have been in primetime yet, but Carolina is looking good. This team has some great wins over the Bengals, Eagles and now Ravens, but also it lost to the Atlanta and Washington. The offense is weird but the defense is good. Watch out for Carolina in the second half.

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6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 6)
A week off for the Chargers lets Melvin Gordon get healthy and the offense reset after some rough outings. Los Angeles seems well positioned to take a wild card spot in the AFC and still have a shot at the Chiefs, just one game behind Kansas City. A trip to Seattle awaits, where we will see what the Chargers are made of.

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7. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
It might be the Browns, but given how the last matchup with them went, this was a massive positive for the Steelers. James Connor had another incredible showing with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s defense looked solid. Don’t look now, but the Steelers are leading the AFC North and picking up some steam. The Ravens are next on the schedule, so get ready for another edition of the best rivalry this league has to offer.

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8. Minnesota Vikings: 4-3-1 (Last Week 5)
On paper, it seemed like the Vikings should have won this game. Minnesota outgained New Orleans by almost 200 yards and intercepted Drew Brees for the first time all season. Two turnovers cost the Vikings the game. Tough pill to swallow for the Vikings, especially as the Bears win to take control of the NFC North.

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9. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4 (Last Week: 10)
For most teams, playing in London means a neutral site game, but when playing the Jaguars that is undoubtedly a road game. It didn’t seem to matter as the Eagles handled the crowd, the trip and a resurgent Blake Bortles. The running defense was phenomenal and the passing offense continues to click, which is important considering the number of running back injuries Philly has suffered. The champs are .500 at the halfway mark, but it would be foolish to rule them out quite yet.

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10. Washington: 5-2 (Last Week: 11)
Adrian Peterson turned back the clocks and dominated the Giants defense. The defense held the relatively anemic New York offense in check no problem. However, there is a lot to be desired as Washington only mustered 20 points. The record looks great, but Alex Smith and the passing offense still leaves a lot to be desired.

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11. Chicago Bears: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
No problems handling the Jets and with losses by the Vikings and Packers, the Bears currently top the NFC North. Matt Nagy is utilizing Tarik Cohen well and the offense will get better when Allen Robinson is back on the field. Turns out the defense is still pretty solid even without Khalil Mack. The tour of the AFC East continues as Chicago travels to Buffalo next.

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12. Houston Texans: 5-3 (Last Week: 18)
Remember when the Texans were 0-3. The New York Giants do, as it was the only win Big Blue picked up this season. Since then, Houston has locked in offensively and found a way to utilize some dynamic offensive targets. Lamar Miller continues to impress after disappearing for a few weeks. Oh and Deshaun Watson seems to be all the way back with five touchdown passes on just 20 attempts. With the rest of the AFC South floundering, Houston looks to be in really good shape.

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13. Baltimore Ravens: 4-4 (Last Week: 7)
This is a bad look for the Ravens. After a hot 3-1 start, Baltimore has dropped three of four to fall to .500. The Steelers are getting back on track and the Bengals continue to win tough games. The season is far from over, but a two-touchdown loss against Carolina raises a lot of doubts about Baltimore’s ability to make the playoffs.

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14. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-3 (Last Week: 15)
Maybe a little closer than Marvin Lewis would have liked, but it was a much-needed win. It is great the Bengals intercepted Jameis Winston four times. It is troubling that ended in just a three-point victory on a game-winning field goal. This defense is a mess across the board right now. It could not get off the field on third down. That is going to be crucial for Cincinnati to solve on its bye week.

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15. Seattle Seahawks: 4-3 (Last Week: 17)
This was a quality win for Seattle. Going on the road against a fellow wild card contender and winning is big. Russell Wilson posted a perfect passer rating and the ground game produced 176 yards on a whopping 42 carries. The Seahawks already have three road wins this season. With a home-loaded back half, Russell Wilson and company seem poised to make a legitimate run at the playoffs.

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16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
There is no one in the NFL who needed a week off more than the Falcons. Atlanta has been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball. Considering that, 3-4 is not terrible for Dan Quinn’s crew. The offense is heating up and if the defense can get some key contributors back on the field, Atlanta could definitely run the table.

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17. Green Bay Packers: 3-3-1 (Last Week: 14)
It is totally fair to be bitter after watching the Packers spoil a perfect start in LA. It was very reminiscent of Green Bay’s collapse against the Seahawks in the 2015 NFC Championship game. The defense made all the right plays and the offense just couldn’t get into a rhythm and capitalize. A two-point loss to the best team in football is nothing to be ashamed of, but it the Packers still seem a step behind the truly elite teams this season. Next test, a trip to Foxborough.

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18. Detroit Lions: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
Maybe I was a little premature on the coronation of Kerryon Johnson as the running back of the future for Detroit. The Lions ran the ball for just 34 yards with a 2.6 yards per carry rate. It only took 17 throws from Russell Wilson to put up 28 points on the defense. Three turnovers against the Seahawks is never going to be a recipe for success. Matt Stafford continues to struggle in big games.

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19. Denver Broncos: 3-5 (Last Week: 20)
This is a young Broncos team continuing to grow. The rookie running backs are looking good as a pair. The passing offense is pedestrian though and the defense that crushed the Cardinals found out the Chiefs are just a bit better offensively. Patience is required, and this was a positive showing, but Denver is just not good enough this season to compete against Kansas City and Los Angeles.

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20. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 22)
This was the right time for a week off in Dallas. The Cowboys had a chance to integrate Amari Cooper into the offense. It should lead to better results from everyone else on the offense just by virtue of his presence. It is an uphill battle after Washington picked up its fifth win of the season, but the Cowboys feel a lot more prepared for the challenge after the bye.

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21. Miami Dolphins: 4-4 (Last Week: 21)
The cupcake schedule is over for the Dolphins, and it is proving to be a bit too tough so far. Miami’s secondary had some legendary blown coverages lead to touchdowns in Houston. On the bright side, DeVante Parker showed up with a massive six-catch 134-yard performance. A rematch with the Jets offers a chance to get back on track, but the ‘Fins will need a much better showing back home to stay in the postseason hunt.

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22. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-5 (Last Week: 19)
How is this the same team that beat the Patriots? Jacksonville continues to struggle offensively, putting up just 18 points in London. Perhaps having four players detained in a nightclub incident was a distraction, but the Jaguars look bad. They now sit in the AFC South cellar with a fifth loss in six games. Leonard Fournette cannot return soon enough.

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23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Tennessee was on a bye this week, which hopefully gave the coaching staff time to figure out how to jump start the offense. Marcus Mariota has been mediocre at quarterback. The running game hasn’t been good enough. Ranking 30th in yards and points per game is not going to be good enough to reach the playoffs.

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24. Indianapolis Colts: 3-5 (Last Week: 27)
The Colts head into the bye week with back-to-back wins. While it might have been against two tanking teams, winning those games is still important. Indianapolis is out of the basement in the division and now in the mix. The offense is rolling and Andrew Luck looks in sync. The Colts might have something Marlon Mack as well.

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25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-4 (Last Week: 24)
FitzMagic is back! Well maybe. Kinda. Jameis Winston imploded to the tune of four interceptions. Ryan Fitzpatrick took his place and tied the game up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers still have the worst defense in the NFL. Quarterback drama and a terrible defense usually leads to a coaching change.

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26. Cleveland Browns: 2-5-1 (Last Week: 25)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Browns have fired their head coach midway through the season. Hue Jackson failed consistently in Cleveland and after a promising start, this team has fallen off completely in recent weeks. Baker Mayfield seems to be regressing and the run game is disappearing. This was always going to be a long project, but this signals the end of the Browns 2018 campaign.

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27. New York Jets: 3-5 (Last Week: 26)
It was a sloppy loss for the Jets. Tons of penalties and absolutely no running game to speak of. New York averaged 2.4 yards per rush. Sam Darnold had another rough outing, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the process. Todd Bowles is running out of time to fix these underlying mistakes continuing to plague the Jets. Before too long, he could be following suit of Hue Jackson unless the team’s play improves.

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28. New York Giants: 1-7 (Last Week: 28)
I have to think any outside general manager would clean house in New York. Coach, offensive line, quarterback, skill players. The only three offensive players likely to make the cut are Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. The Giants are well on their way to a top-five draft pick. The trade deadline is very soon and there could be a few more players out the door.

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29. Buffalo Bills: 2-6 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills played a great first half on defense and honestly a good second half as well. Turns out that bringing Derek Anderson out of retirement is not the best strategy to win football games, especially against the Patriots. It appears Buffalo is back to being a basement team in the AFC, at least for the near future.

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30. Arizona Cardinals: 2-6 (Last Week: 31)
The Cardinals are capable of grinding out games against other bottom teams. If only Arizona could play San Francisco every week. The Cards are 2-0 against the 49ers and 0-6 against anyone else. It is hard to evaluate this performance, but the offense looked a bit more balanced. The defense harassed C.J. Beathard. There are some good pieces in place, but Arizona needs a lot more to build a team on.

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31. Oakland Raiders: 1-6 (Last Week: 30)
Even without Amari Cooper the Raiders offense had no problem scoring points. The defense was totally MIA though, allowing 200 yards rushing, three passing touchdowns and failing to register a sack. Oakland is certainly rebuilding and has the draft capital to do so, but it is going to take patience that fans may not have.

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32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-7 (Last Week: 32)
Losing Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerrick McKinnon to season-ending injuries might just be a blessing in disguise for the 49ers long term. San Francisco seems destined for a top pick and will be able to add some quality players to a solid returning core. If the 2018 season has shown anything, there a lot of holes left to fill on this team.

NFL Power Rankings 2018: Week 7

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1. Los Angeles Rams: 7-0 (Last Week: 1)
It seems like the Rams are just picking up steam. Los Angeles blew out the 49ers on the road to make the division essentially out of reach. Sean McVay’s team faces a much tougher test with Green Bay paying a visit coming off a bye before LA heads to New Orleans. If the Rams survive that, we can start talking about a perfect season.

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2. New England Patriots: 5-2 (Last Week: 2)
This game almost went to overtime, but New England’s defense did just enough to prevent Kevin White from tying the game up on a Hail Mary. The good news: the Patriots are well in control of the AFC East now after Miami lost to Detroit. The bad news: Sony Michel is likely going to miss some time with an injury he suffered on Sunday. He was really starting to emerge as an every down back for New England.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-1 (Last Week: 3)
Kansas City remains the king of the AFC, at least in the standings, after demolishing Cincinnati on Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The defense also showed up for the first time all season, holding the Bengals to just 252 yards of total offense. If the Chiefs’ defense can come anywhere close to the level it played this weekend, this team is going to make a deep playoff run.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Was it a little lucky to avoid overtime? Probably, but New Orleans managed 17 fourth quarter points against the best scoring defense in the league. Drew Brees and this offense is still humming along. The addition of Eli Apple from the Giants should also help this secondary down the stretch. New Orleans is in a tough division, but clearly looks the best of the bunch.

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5. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2-1 (Last Week 5)
Another week and another stellar performance from Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins and company rolled over the team he spurned in free agency. Beating the Jets does not mark a marquee win for the Vikings, but a solid one on the road. Minnesota now gets a visit from New Orleans in a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle. The Vikings should also get a boost in the form of Everson Griffin returning this week.

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6. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-2 (Last Week: 9)
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was rather ugly, but it was a win nonetheless. The Chargers managed just enough offense without Mevlin Gordon. The trip to London is tough for a West Coast team. Los Angeles now gets a week off and has to feel good being just one game back of the Chiefs.

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7. Baltimore Ravens: 4-3 (Last Week: 6)
It was a really poor time for Justin Tucker to miss his first ever extra point attempt as it cost Baltimore the game. However, more of the blame has to sit with the defense that blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead. The Saints have a great offense, but that kind of collapse is unacceptable for the Ravens. Lucky for them, the Bengals looked awful against the Chiefs.

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8. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 8)
So Le’Veon Bell still isn’t back, but the Steelers will be happy that every other team in their division lost during their bye week. With Cleveland set to visit this week, Pittsburgh has a big opportunity to pick up a division win and assert itself in the AFC playoff race. Leaning on James Connor seems like the way to go.

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9. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 11)
Don’t call it a comeback! Well, that’s actually exactly what it was. Carolina looked sluggish to start, but turned it around with 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull off a massive victory. The win keeps the Panthers just a game behind the Saints in the NFC South. If Carolina can beat Baltimore when it comes to town this week, it will inspire a lot of confidence in this Panthers team.

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10. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-4 (Last Week: 7)
It is time to start worrying about the Eagles. The reigning champs find themselves below .500 with a flailing offense. Philly allowed 21 unanswered points to end the game after starting up 17-0. The lack of a running game is a big issue as the Eagles mustered just 58 yards on the ground at 2.4 yards per carry average. With the trade deadline coming up, maybe it is time for Philadelphia to think about adding a running back.

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11. Washington: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Washington bottled up Ezekiel Elliott and contained Dak Prescott just enough to earn a win. Alex Smith is still struggling a bit in the passing game with just 178 yards through the air. He played turnover free though and the defense came up with two fumble recoveries. That is a recipe for success, but it would nice to see the offense produce a bit more.

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12. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 10)
An easy start to the season gave false hope to many of the Bears’ potential for this year. Back-to-back losses where the defense allowed a ton of points brought Chicago back down to Earth. Had Kevin White made it into the end zone, we might not be talking about a loss. Don’t be fooled by the rushing numbers either. Tarik Cohen and Jordan combined for a woeful 53 yards on 18 carries. Matt Nagy has to find a way to jump start the ground attack. Also, that defense needs to get back to its early season form.

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13. Detroit Lions: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Finally! The Lions have found their running back of the future, or so it seems with the continued emergence of Kerryon Johnson. The rookie from Auburn picked up 158 yards rushing on just 19 carries against the Dolphins. Matt Stafford completed 82 percent of his passes as well. Detroit is right in the mix for a wild card spot heading into the second half of the season. Newly added Damon Harrison will help the cause as well.

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14. Green Bay Packers: 3-2-1 (Last Week: 14)
The Packers got a much-needed week off and the assumption has to be that Aaron Rodgers is much closer to be healthy now. That is a scary thing for the rest of the league. Green Bay is going to need him to be with a trip to Los Angeles coming up.

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15. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-3 (Last Week: 12)
They are who we thought they were! No seriously, after starting the season 4-1, the Bengals have dropped two straight in disappointing fashion. This defense has a long way to go still and Andy Dalton is still too inconsistent to consider this team a real contender. Cincy has a visit from the high-flying Buccaneers offense coming up as well and desperately needs to play better.

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16. Atlanta Falcons: 3-4 (Last Week: 16)
The Falcons are a bit lucky it was the Giants they played on Monday night after struggling to get the ball into the end zone for much of the game. Matt Ryan is putting up MVP-like number though, which is good enough to win games for this team. With rumors that Patrick Peterson wants out in Arizona, it might be time for Atlanta to fill a hole in its defense and set itself up for a playoff run.

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17. Seattle Seahawks: 3-3 (Last Week: 17)
The Seahawks enjoyed a bye week, but several other wild card contenders picked up wins. It is not going to be an easy road for Seattle to make the playoffs with Los Angeles already at 7-0. A trip to Detroit is going to be vital in deciding the NFC wild card picture.

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18. Houston Texans: 4-3 (Last Week: 22)
Make it four straight! The Texans are on fire after picking up another divisional win and now control the AFC South. Houston’s defense came up with big turnovers and chased Blake Bortles from the game. Lamar Miller came up with 100 yards on the ground as well. Deshaun Watson had a forgettable performance though, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars defense is good, but Cody Kessler threw for more yards in the second half alone than Watson did the whole game.

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19. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-4 (Last Week: 13)
The Jaguars are officially spiraling. I hate to blame everything on Blake Bortles, because the running game hasn’t been good either, but after fumbling twice and being replaced by Cody Kessler, it’s not a good look. The Jaguars offense managed fewer than 10 points for the third time this season. It is clear what the issue is for this team. The addition of Carlos Hyde should help some, but Jacksonville needs to find a passing game.

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20. Denver Broncos: 3-4 (Last Week: 23)
Denver flat out demolished Arizona and took advantage of a rookie quarterback with two pick-sixes. In total, the defense came up with five turnovers and six sacks. The offense cashed in on short field opportunities. Case Keenum was efficient and the running game was effective. This is a formula the Broncos can rely on to win games, just maybe not in quite as devastating fashion every week. We’ve seen what this team can do with an average quarterback and elite defense before.

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21. Miami Dolphins: 4-3 (Last Week: 19)
Miami managed to avoid blowing a fourth quarter lead this week, mostly because it never had one. Brock Osweiler played fairly well though. The run game was solid. The offense was not really the issue. Sure 21 points is not usually enough to win, but allowing 32 points and 450 yards of offense is almost always going to result in a loss. It will need to move on quickly playing Thursday against Houston.

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22. Dallas Cowboys: 3-4 (Last Week: 20)
The high the Cowboys were feeling following a massive win over the Jaguars faded quickly. Dallas looked hopeless offensively once again against Washington. However, the big news is Jerry Jones landed his new number one receiver. The Cowboys sent a first round pick to Oakland in exchange for Amari Cooper. His presence should open up more running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and take some pressure off Dak Prescott. It is an uphill climb, but Dallas seems better prepared for it now.

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23. Tennessee Titans: 3-4 (Last Week: 21)
The Titans defense turned in another stellar performance, this time over in England. It wasn’t quite enough to produce a win. Tennessee has a championship caliber defense. The offense is nowhere close to good enough right now. Marcus Mariota and the offense have scored more than 20 points just once this season. The fact Tennessee is 3-4 and not 1-6 is a testament to how good the defense is.

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24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-3 (Last Week: 26)
Tampa almost blew it against the Browns, but held on for the win in overtime. This offense can pick up tons of yards, but turnovers are killing the Buccaneers. With 15 already this season, the Bucs need to do whatever they can to hide the weaknesses on defense. Giving the other team extra possessions is not the way to do it.

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25. Cleveland Browns: 2-4-1 (Last Week: 24)
Oh Cleveland. The Browns have now gone to overtime in four of their seven games. If nothing else, Baker Mayfield and friends are making it entertaining to watch the Browns lose this year. This team is still clearly a few years away, but the experience it is getting in these tight games is invaluable. Cleveland scored 14 fourth quarter points to tie the game and force overtime in the first place. Hue Jackson has this team on the brink of truly breaking through.

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26. New York Jets: 3-4 (Last Week: 25)
These are the lumps you take when you have a rookie quarterback. Sam Darnold competed just 17 of his 42 throws and tossed three interceptions. He isn’t the only one to blame though. The running game disappeared. Bilal Powell hits IR with a neck injury. Isaiah Crowell has struggled to be a consistent threat. It is best the Jets just move on after a truly ugly performance.

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27. Indianapolis Colts: 2-5 (Last Week: 28)
Marlon Mack went off and the Colts crushed the Bills. For most 2-5 teams, winning against other bottom feeders just hurts draft position. For Indy, this division is not totally out of reach with the Texans only at 4-3. I don’t expect the Colts to really close that gap, but this was a dominant performance against a Bills team that was shutting down opposing offenses. It could be the spark Indianapolis needs to get back in the divisional race.

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28. New York Giants: 1-6 (Last Week: 27)
The fire sale is officially on in New York. Eli Apple and Damon Harrison have already been shipped out. At 1-6, the Giants are certainly thinking about next season. Stockpiling draft picks is great, but the concern seems to be that this year’s draft class is fairly week past the top 15. Every class produces a few diamonds in the rough, but it might be a tough climb back for the Giants.

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29. Buffalo Bills: 2-5 (Last Week: 29)
The Bills might genuinely need to think about holding an open tryout for fans to play quarterback, Invincible style. Buffalo is last in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage, each by a pretty sizable margin. Bills quarterbacks have combined to throw three touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven games. As much as they hated him, Bills fans desperately miss Tyrod Taylor right now.

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30. Oakland Raiders: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
The Raiders didn’t lose this week! Well they were on bye, but you can count front office moves as a win. Oakland shipped Amari Cooper to Dallas in return for a first round pick. That kind of return for a player who has struggled with drops in his career is fairly impressive. Suddenly, the Raiders may find themselves with three picks in the top 20 selections come the 2019 draft.

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31. Arizona Cardinals: 1-6 (Last Week: 31)
Well that was awful. Josh Rosen had a game he would like to forget and the Cardinals found themselves down 35-3 at halftime. It is no secret this is not a team destined for the playoffs, but that was pathetic. Patrick Peterson has demanded a trade and it seems like Steve Wilks has no clue what he is doing as the head coach of the team.

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32. San Francisco 49ers: 1-6 (Last Week: 32)
San Francisco went from almost competitive to almost unwatchable in just one week. Sure it was against the best team in the league, but the 49ers are far and away the worst team in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan’s team has a turnover ratio of -18, which is bottom of the pile. This team has struggled with injuries, but even without them, it looks like San Francisco is a while away from truly competing.